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Cantaloupe Fungus

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Cantaloupe Fungus

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Overview

Cantaloupe melon plants are susceptible to a variety of fungus problems that may cause significant losses to your home garden's fruit production as well as health and cosmetic damage to plant parts. Familiarize yourself with fungal pathogens as well as ways to deal with infection to ensure the continuation of a healthy home landscape.

Care

Vigorous plants are more prepared to deal with and fight off fungus problems and infection than weakened fruit plants. Grow cantaloupes in areas that provide full sunlight for optimal fruit development and plant health, according to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Cantaloupes thrive in well-drained soil with a neutral pH of 7.0 and will tolerate slightly alkaline conditions.

Types

Downy mildew is a disease of cantaloupes caused by the fungus Pseudoperonospora cubensis, according to the Clemson University Extension. With a preference for high moisture content, this fungus mainly affects cantaloupe foliage. Gummy stem blight is a common fungal infection of cantaloupes caused by the fungus Mycosphaerella melonis. Fungi overwinter in seeds and vines and germinate in warm, moist conditions, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Effects

Downy mildew fungus on cantaloupes results in the development of yellowed portions on leaves that grow and change to a brown color. Gray mold is often also present on undersides of leaves. The sweetness of fruit may lessen as a result and leaves often curl and die, according to the Clemson University Extension. Gummy stem blight causes green/gray spots on leaf surfaces that darken as the fungus disease progresses. Beginning in the middle of the cantaloupe plant and working their way out, disease symptoms also include lesions that appear saturated with water. As the name suggests, a "gummy ooze" often emerges from breakages in stems, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Disease commonly leads to plant death.

Natural Control

For natural control of cantaloupe fungus, plant the Mission variety for resistance to downy mildew to avoid incidence of disease, according to the Clemson University Extension. For gummy stem blight, plant seeds that are free of disease, remove and destroy affected plant parts and plant cantaloupes one time for every four-year period, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Always clean your hands and sanitize pruning tools and other equipment between cuts and from one plant to the next.

Chemical Control

For chemical control of downy mildew fungus on cantaloupes, apply a fungicide with the active ingredient mancozeb or fixed copper, according to the Clemson University Extension. For gummy stem blight fungal problems, apply a chemical with the active ingredient mancozeb or chlorothalonil, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Contact a licensed professional or your local county extension agent if in need of specific advice for your home gardening region.

Keywords: cantaloupe fungus control, cantaloupe fungus infection, cantaloupe fungal problem

About this Author

Tarah Damask's writing career, beginning in 2003, includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum, and articles for eHow. She has a love for words and is an avid observer. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.